Whenever I talk about my writing, someone inevitably asks where I get my great ideas. (Okay. Fine. They just ask where I get my ideas. I like to believe the “great” is implied.) My answer is a two-parter: one, I am perhaps less engaged with reality than, say, your average accountant. (I have a sister who’s an accountant. She has way more life skills than I do.) And two: I know a good detail when I steal one.

I set my next young adult book, Bubble World, on a magical island called Agalinas. I stole the name from my son, who as a very young child, invented an imaginary place to house all his imaginary friends. And I stole the basic geography (and more) from Santa Catalina Island, which is only an hour by ferry from Long Beach, California, but feels like it exists in an entirely different dimension.

The rest of the book I made up entirely by myself. I swear.

Anyway, here are some of the things I love about Catalina:

It looks like it belongs in the Mediterranean.

Thanks to the Catalina Island Conservancy, 90% of the island can never be developed.

Golf carts (and feet) are the preferred mode of transportation. Car ownership is strictly limited. But that doesn’t matter because the only real town, Avalon, is so small that you can walk anywhere.

Wild bison, the descendents of animals brought in to film a 1920’s western, roam around the interior of the island. Also, there are lots of feral cats, which I realize is not a selling point for everyone, but I just really love cats.

Colorful tiles made on the island decorate much of the architecture.

The island is a treasure trove of Southern California history. And yes, I did giggle I typed those words. But it’s true. Google it.

There’s always something going on in the center of town. Like: sand castle contests. And art festivals. And rubber ducky races.

It feels too perfect to be real.